Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Church Surveys – Listen to God or the Congregation?

Communication is the key to any healthy relationship.

It’s the glue that holds things together, and often the only catalyst by which any legitimate conflict can be resolved. Issues often arise when one or the other party in any relationship decides to withhold either negative, or even positive feedback.

The same is true when it comes to the relationship between your church, and the people you love who attend your church. Whether we are talking about your faithful few that volunteer in your church week after week, or even the many who attend your church and choose not to get involved, one overlooked key to this relationship is feedback. Week after week both dedicated volunteers and less-involved attendees walk through the doors of your church, or interact with your ministry in some way. Whether we like it or not, they all have opinions. And many of those opinions are valuable. VERY valuable.

The biggest question we hear when we work with ministries on soliciting feedback through their church website is this: “but shouldn’t we just pray about it and let God direct us rather than asking for a human opinion from our congregation?” Well, yes…and no. Of course, every pastor and ministry leader should be regularly asking God for direction and wisdom. But at its core, this is not a theological issue. God still requires pastors and ministry leaders to use the intellectual wisdom that He has blessed them with to sense patterns in trends and make decisions based on those patterns and trends.

By far, the easiest way that a pastor or ministry leader can solicit feedback from his people is through church surveys. The format and vehicle by which the information is collected is far less important that the overall need to even get feedback in the first place.

So why is feedback from church surveys so important? Here are just a few answers:

  1. Church surveys empower your people – everyone loves to feel heard, and that includes the people that serve in, and attend your church or ministry. Even just the act of filling out a survey online or in person makes the average church attender feel like you care about their opinion. It?s a welcoming feeling indeed.
  2. Church surveys will save your ministry money
            • The information and answers collected in your surveys will often reveal areas of your ministry that require too much attention and financial resources for the amount of value that they provide. Moving resources into a ministry that is already effective but could use more fuel, or making the decision to ?land the plane? on a ministry that may not be as effective as it once was, is a great ?redirection? of available time and money.
            • Learning from your church attenders that the auditorium is always a little toasty?as an example, might allow you to adjust the thermostat on Sundays. Or maybe it?s the fact that 11 flavors of coffee available in the lobby is 10 too many! It?s little details like this that add up and help the ministry to cut costs where possible to be more efficient.
            • Church surveys allow you to ensure that you are on point with your mission, vision and goals – every church and ministry should have laser-like clarity on why you are doing what you are doing. It?s not enough to say that you?re following Jesus? commands in the Bible. It?s more than that! A clearly-defined mission statement allows for your leadership and staff to constantly remind themselves of WHY they are doing what they are doing. Maybe your church or ministry leans evangelistic and heavily targets unbelievers in your community. Or maybe your church is specifically connecting well with singles, city-goers, baby boomers, young students, or college students. Whatever your goal is, asking your PEOPLE questions around these ideas will help to reveal whether you are accomplishing it well.

So that?s the WHY. Now let?s quickly look at a few ways that you can get this done for your church or ministry. The HOW.

The format with which you take your surveys is more a matter of preference than strategy. You can either have your folks take the survey in your service or lobby by paper, or online. Being a church website company, we of course think that the online way is more advantageous, for many reasons.

Free Online Options for Church Surveys

Google Forms

  • Allows you to easily create online forms and take responses quickly
  • Results are collected automatically into a Google Sheets spreadsheet so that you can review them
  • No automatic analysis or scoring of results
      • Can?t be placed directly on your website easily (uses a hyperlink to a Google hosted web page)

Survey Monkey

  • Survey creation is a list more involved, but powerful once you get the hang of it
  • Results are collected in your Survey Monkey account for review and analysis
  • For a fee, it allows you to survey other church-goers as well that don?t go to your church (like if you wanted to see what the reaction would be in general to a new type of service, etc)
  • Can?t be placed directly on your website easily (uses a hyperlink to a Survey Monkey hosted web page)
  • Offers paid plans with more features


  • Amazingly creative way to take answers for your survey questions with a beautiful interface
  • Results are collected in easy-to-use-reports for review
  • Results can be exported to Excel for further analysis


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